Higher education institutions, employers, and students are well aware of the discrepancy between the competencies and experiences that employers look for in potential hires and the skills of recent graduates. Leaders in the field are brainstorming solutions to bridge the gap, teaming up with appealing sponsors to better serve and prepare their students to enter the workforce. 

In an effort to help connect more students with quality jobs in lucrative industries, the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts (UMN’s CLA) unveiled a new partnership with Helios Consulting that will enable students to access quality paid tech apprenticeship programs. The initiative promises to help students develop essential skills needed in the booming HR tech industry.

Teaming up with Helios, a St. Paul-based services partner of Workday, the HR tech platform of choice for nearly 10,000 companies worldwide, including half of the Fortune 500, the program compensates students as full-time employees and also promotes desirable skills to catapult their careers. Coined the Rise apprenticeship program, the initiative's goal is to address employers’ growing need for workers with Workday skills while giving new and recent graduates the opportunity to gain vital experience and training.

UMN’s CLA mission is to prepare students to be independent and original thinkers. The college prioritizes innovation and encourages students to create meaning in their lives and in their life’s work to become productive citizens and leaders in their communities and the world. “In today’s fast-changing economy, CLA’s mission depends not only on making sure students develop the core career competencies that allow them to thrive in their careers, but also giving students the specific skills that today’s employers demand,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Ascan Koerner. “This is about creating new pathways to good jobs in one of the hottest sectors in the Twin Cities and across the country.”

The college’s partnership with Helios creates a unique and desirable opportunity for the school’s students.  “University of Minnesota has long been recognized for its commitment to new and creative ideas that can expand access to economic opportunity for students,” said Helios Founding Partner Nick Stevens. “We’re proud to join forces with ‘The U’ and realize the potential of apprenticeships to help more students access high-wage careers, while also addressing a critical talent gap for the Fortune 500.” 

 Graduates who participate in Rise will receive training and support from industry experts and be compensated starting from day one of training. The program paves a pathway to joining Helios’ Fortune 500 clients upon completion, a promising start for an individual new to the workforce. 

“CLA graduates are renowned for critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills,” said Helios President Trevor Lee. “These capabilities are very much in-demand in the growing HR tech sector. Because Workday is a no-code platform, the Rise apprenticeship program can provide talented and diverse CLA graduates who may not have any background in HR or technology with a clear path to a successful HR tech career.”